St. LouIS (Read: St. Lou-is)

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{Here we go again with another way too long lull of no writing…I swear I’m constantly writing in my mind (or in my Notes on my phone for that matter), but by the time I open up WordPress at night, I’m always exhausted and ready for bed. Gah! Anyway, jumping right back in here…}

Last week we spent a few days back home for the first time in five months. To some, this may sound like nothing, but to me, five months is the longest amount of time I’ve ever been away from home. We’ve been living in California for almost 9 months now (can you believe it!? Already!? I can’t…and in my head, nine months instantly equates to nearly one year. Whoa!), and we’ve been home twice. We went back home in March to meet our new nephew, and we went home last week for a wedding, but itching to spend some time in STL, we made it an extra long weekend and spent time with family, with friends and visiting some of our favorite STL places. Those few days went by SO quickly, and we attempted to squeeze as much as possible in such a short amount of time which was no easy feat yet we still managed to squeeze a lot into such a short amount of time. My heart is so full after being home for a few days. My heart was also reminded, though, just how in love I truly am with that city and so many of the people in it. Being across the country from home and loved ones sure does pose its challenges, but being away also makes you realize how great home really is. Not that we didn’t already love everything about the city that we call home, but when you’re away from it for months at a time living in a place so different than what you know, you are simply reminded of all those good things. As much as we’ve always wanted to go and experience some place new, and as much as we’ve always expressed so much love for our ‘rival city’ of Chicago, we’ve always shared how much we also love St. Louis, our city. It’s such a special place for so many reasons, but there is so much culture, so much vibrancy, such a strong sense of community. We went back into our church doors and felt right back at home with the overwhelming feeling of love from others, so many others who care so much about the heart of the city and its people. That city has a story to tell, and it makes my heart smile. I oftentimes share with people here that they may not understand my love for that city because they’ve never been, but that’s ok. I feel like it’s my own little secret. One that I feel like maybe you only truly understand if you immerse yourself in it. You become a part of it and its community. If you’re in St. Louis or planning a trip to St. Louis (or maybe haven’t ever considered planning a trip to St. Louis) and don’t quite see what’s so attractive to many, I encourage you to look a little deeper, because there is so so much there. St. Louis has been getting so many good remarks from Thrillist lately, but read this post in particular which almost perfectly describes so much of the good, so much of what so many are simply missing. There are people who call the city home, and there are people who only seem to want to claim it as theirs when the Cardinals are well on their way to the World Series or when the talk of crime isn’t quite so high. For those on all ends of that spectrum, it’s a city with a story to tell. A really good story.

It’s fun out here, for so many reasons, but no matter what, that city is home. It may not have a beach, it may not have a steady 75 + sunny weather pattern, but I can name a whole lot more that it does have, I can assure you of that. And for the record, our favorite street tacos aren’t in California, they are from Mission Taco in STL. Who would have thought?

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Loving our adventures and all there is to here on the west coast and truly soaking up every bit that there is to do in this SoCal life, but I’m already counting down to the holidays to be back in the Lou again for a few more days. 🙂

Xo.

Streets with Meaning

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If you’re not following Benton Park Prints on social, you should be. They create fun prints for a wide array of subjects, but they create a lot of fun city prints which I especially love. Some of their featured prints are for two cities which I love most, St. Louis and Chicago. I’ve had my eye on this STL print for awhile, and when we moved, remaining city residents and knowinig that we’d probably be here for awhile, being our first home purchase, I told Tim that I really wanted to buy this print for the new house. Surely enough, this was my Valentine. We finally got it framed and hung in our dining room last weekend, and I am so in love with the way it looks. What’seven more incredible is that Tim had a few of the street names from the original design swapped so that each of these streets in St. Louis has special meaning to us. These streets include the street where the church that our wedding ceremony took place was, the location of our downtown condo that we lived in for two years, our favorite date night place, our current church home and the neighborhood that we now call home. I love things with significance, and looking at this just makes me smile. Have a good weekend friends. Maybe we’ll get a few more things to hang around the house (it’s finally starting to really feel like home around here and the bare wall are starting to diminish!), and maybe you’ll have fun frolicking at some great place on one of St. Louis’s great streets. I know that’s what we plan to do. Have a good one!

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On the move…

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Photo by SHD Photography

In November, Tim and I officially became first-time homeowners, and as of next week, we’ll officially be living with our new address. We’ve got a lot of big changes in store for the new year, starting with this one. I’m excited for what’s ahead, but it’s also a little bittersweet because I’ve loved our experience of living downtown for these last couple of years. We knew that we would be making a big move of some sort this year. We would either be moving someplace else (as in, outside of this city), or, if we stayed, we would finally decide to buy a home. I still have dreams of us moving away together to someplace new. We have envisioned a move to Chicago for years now, but alas, this is what’s best for us today, and we really love STL too and are happy that we’ve found the perfect little home still within these city limits. So for the next few years, this is our new life adventure. The projects have already begun, but we’ve wanted to soak up downtown living for as long as we can. The time has finally come though, and next weekend, we’re officially making the big move.

As soon as we closed on the house, which was actually before Thanksgiving, we jumped right in with attempting to find the perfect paint colors for the walls. If it were up to Tim, he would probably be content with the first color we chose. I, on the other hand, think things through a little too deeply. We’ve gone though one entire paint party with friends helping us out to find that the colors chosen we’re nothing like we thought. We finally decided to go for the Benjamin Moore paint I initially wanted to start with. Six (or so) sample cans and paint swatches on various walls in each room of the house later, we finally have colors on the walls. All this to find the perfect neutral shades of light and dark gray and white. It’s far more difficult than one would ever think! If you’re following along on Instagram, you’ve been fortunate enough to see these escapades thus far.

The month of December became a little crazy for us, hence my lack of anything blog related. Grad school got intense with my final weeks of courses and major projects and tests loomed, I was out of town for a big trade show for work, the holidays were, well, the holidays, and very unfortunately my grandmother passed away. Life got very tough, and I’ll admit that I had more breakdowns than one during those few weeks. I had a lot I wanted to write about in that time and just didn’t get to. Nonetheless, we made it through, we celebrated the new year with a wedding with friends and we happily put 2014 behind us and are beyond ready for the new beginnings that 2015 has in store. I’ve got 2015 goals to write about and a few reflections from 2014 to share, so hopefully I’ll get to those before Valentine’s Day 😉

Anyway, back to the house. Tim and I took a couple of days off this last week to get the Christmas decorations down, start doing some packing (yup, start…and we’re moving in less than a week) and to work on some things at the house. We’ve only got one room left to be painted, and Tim has done SO much (God love him for putting up with me throughout this process). I truly don’t know where I would be without him most days. We also took a fun day trip to Chicago on Friday (see, we decide we’re staying in St. Louis and still have to make an excuse to get back up to Chi) to go to IKEA and do a little bit of shopping for the house. Unfortunately the new STL IKEA is opening a few months too late (but I’m still anxiously awaiting that grand opening too!). We’ve kept most of the same furniture and moved it around with us since our first apartment when we got married, but we’ve decided we’re ready to trade a few things in, most specifically, our bedroom furniture. We found the most perfect headboard at IKEA that we brought home, and we ordered a few more pieces online that we should have within the next few days. I love to decorate, and this being the first place that we will actually own, I’m ready to make it really feel like a home so it’s exciting, yet a bit stressful and a lot overwhelming, all at the same time. It’ll be nice having a basement for storage and not having to store things away in a storage locker two floors down, so that’s a plus anyway 😉 I’ve been making frequent trips to Home Goods, Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, West Elm and more. Today we got new lamps at Target, two beautiful mercury glass lamps for the bedroom, one of which I carried in and slipped right out of my fingers and crashed all over the hardwood floor. So, yes, there’s been an awful lot of that too, hence a breakdown or two. But, it’s ok. From what I hear, it’s all a part of this thing called home ownership. Not so sure that we’re ready for this or not (he’s been far more mentally ready that I have been), but we’re in and ready to dive right into this next chapter in our journey we call life. (Oh, and our privacy fence should be finished next week too…which means Bentley will have an entire yard to himself for the first time ever so this indeed is an exciting new feature!)

New adventures await, and I know that God’s got even bigger plans for us, so for today, I’m just going along with whatever those plans may be and with what each day holds. Here’s to our new year.

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Pray for STL

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My heart has been very heavy for our city these past couple of days. I have had a lot of thoughts on the recent events of Ferguson and the St. Louis area in its entirety. I have been silently sitting back and listening to the voices of many, on both sides of what is going on. Whomever it may be, I believe we all know at least somebody that is affected by this in some way, shape or form, whether it be directly or indirectly.

What I have loved though? The way that St. Louis is coming together to make a positive impact and change on this city. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot of harm being done and a lot of negativity among many, but there are positive things happening too that many people aren’t seeing. Last night our church held a prayer service focusing on our city. Following the service, Tim and I went to South Grand where much damage had occurred during a protest/rioting the night before, but what we saw as the aftermath was amazing. Many of the local businesses were boarded up either because of sustained damage or to prevent anything further from occurring, but local artists spent the day in this community painting these boards with positive and encouraging words and thoughts. It was truly an amazing sight to see. It was very surreal eating inside a restaurant with its windows boarded up to the outside world (and it’s still very hard to believe that this is happening right here at home and isn’t something we’re only seeing on TV), but seeing the amount of people that were inside and walking around South Grand visiting the other restaurants and looking at the artwork too was enlightening and inspiring.

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There are also some individuals organizing #HealSTL, #STLTogether and #PayItForwardSTL campaigns via social media, and seeing the ways that people all around St. Louis are paying it forward with small, subtle acts of kindness is amazing. These types of things make my heart happy, but especially now in such a time of need for our city.

I believe that everyone should have a voice, an opinion, a right to be heard, and I’m grateful that we’re given that opportunity, but I also believe that there are safe ways to do this that will lead to a much more positive impact in the long run. I hope that many of us will truly open up our eyes and ears to see what’s happening, to listen to how everyone feels on every side of the situation, no matter the race or social class or whatever other differentiating factors there may be, and to be understanding of what is going on. Everyone is hurting. Ultimately, I hope that St. Louis will rise above, and I believe that with the amazing people that are in this city, that is exactly what will happen. Even with all of the negativity that surrounds, the positive changes being made are making me love St. Louis more and more. It’s crazy to think that this is something big that our  children are going to be reading about in their history books some day (around the globe even), but I want to have the opportunity to say that somehow, even if it’s in the smallest of ways, I was a part of the positive things that are being done in our city. Even if it’s just one small act of kindness that I can share with someone today.

Peace and love,

Kasey

I Love STL

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One of my first Instagram posts of this week upon coming home from last week’s family vacation. My how my mindset changed coming home to the news of such turmoil so close to home. This unfortunately has not been the most enlightening news week we’ve seen in awhile. For one whom is so passionate about social media, it’s been incredibly difficult to look at these past few days. There has been an overwhelming amount of sadness and heartache in the news and in our community alone, all of which is very real and very eye opening in more ways than one. Despite the thoughts that I have had on everything that’s currently going on in and around this city, I’ve been quiet, and I’ve just been listening and trying to take it all in. In the midst of it all, though, it is encouraging to me to see the ways that people and the local community are pulling together. I’ve seen local coffee shops posting that journalists and reporters and anyone covering the Ferguson story can come in for free coffee and places like Straub’s are providing information for customers to send contributions to the victim’s family. In a time like this, in a city like this, no matter which ‘side’ of the story you choose to take or believe, these are the things that we need the most right now. People are hurting everywhere from both ends, people in the community directly, and people all around this city and the surrounding county. I’m still hesitant to say too much, as the story is still unraveling, even more so just today, but ultimately, I’m praying for peace in St. Louis because, after all, this is the city that we call our home.